Penn Engineering on "Good Morning America"
Penn Engineering has developed a suite of autonomous aerial robots that can autonomously navigate into unknown, three-dimensional environments, explore to obtain valuable information about the environment from its sensors and transmit this information in the form of a three-dimensional map to human operators who are safely located in a remote spot. All of the calculations required to fly, explore and map a structure is done onboard the robot; they do not rely on a human operator to control them. Because of their relatively low cost, tens or even hundreds of these robots could conceivably be dispatched in inaccessible, hazardous locations bringing back all the information required for disaster recovery.

Developed by Vijay Kumar, deputy dean of education in the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his collaborators, these robots have been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube and featured on the Discovery Channel and the “Colbert Report.”

Most recently, one of the robots made a live appearance Friday, April 1, on “Good Morning America” in New York. Research Assistant Professor Nathan Michael and PhD/MSE student Frank Shen of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics were on hand, demonstrating the robot’s autonomous hovering as “GMA” host George Stephanopoulos talked about how such robots could be used in the ongoing disaster-relief efforts in Japan.

You can watch the “Good Morning America” segment here, and see the robot’s mapping in action in these YouTube clips.

More clips of these aerial robots in action are available via Professor Kumar’s project page, and more information about Penn Robotics is available on the GRASP Lab homepage.

Visit for more information on the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
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